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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex in Media: Books, Magazines, Films, TV & More » Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Showing Abusive Relationships

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Author Topic: Lizzie Bennet Diaries and Showing Abusive Relationships
skiesofgreen
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I've been following a web series called The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice) and have been really impressed with the last few installments of the series both in the main series and in the side series The Lydia Bennet (both channels on youtube if you want to watch them).

Despite being a little wary at the beginning of the series of the creators depictions of Lydia (for those unfamiliar the "boy crazy" sister in the original story) and the use of the word "slut" to describe her (by the main character) I really appreciated how they've handled the most recent arc involving her.

[Spoilers coming for any one who cares]

For those who've read (or watched ) Pride and Prejudice you know there's a big scandal involving Lydia about 3/4 through the book. In this adaptation, rather than having Lydia run away with Whickam (just going off to the city with a boy is hardly a life altering scandal in modern day) they developed a situation where Whickam was clearly emotional manipulating Lydia (showing lots of the signs of an abusive relationship in Lydia's videos) and eventually culminated in the (currently threatened) non-consensual posting of a sex tape online. Not only do I think they did a good job showing the dynamics of an emotionally abusive and coercive relationship I also appreciate how they've shown a supportive family in the most recent episodes.

The most recent video was a confrontation between Lydia and Lizzie in which Lydia showed and spoke so much of the self victim blaming so familiar to survivors of abusive relationships. I thought the representation of that thought process was really raw and powerful and I also appreciated how they showed Lizzie coming around, realising she was wrong for the way she had judged her sister, and being a supportive sibling who clearly states "this is not your fault, this is all on him, this is his fault." I thought it was incredibly powerful to see a sister who starts the series so judgmental, step up for her sibling who is clearly blaming herself for being taken advantage of and telling her with no strings attached that "this is not your fault."

Anyways I just wanted to give shout out what I feel is a really nicely handled example of a survivor getting clear support from her family.

For anyone who doesn't want to spend the required hours catching up on the series this is a link to the most recent video and the one I'm most directly referencing in this post:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LdEPWt0R60

Posts: 243 | From: British Columbia, Canada | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Onionpie
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Hey skiesofgreen! I too am a follower of the lizzie bennet diaries, and I started watching lydia's videos from when she was in las vegas onwards. And I agree with everything you've said here. It's a really excellently done show, and although I too was very uncomfortable with some of what people said about lydia (in the series and also in the comments on the videos), the way they're portraying her relationship with wickham is very realistic and I feel it's kind of important. I was reading some of the comments on lydia's videos, and there were some people asking what about the relationship made it abusive -- and a whole bunch of people answering in a clear, friendly, and accurate way. So the videos have lead to at least a few people becoming more aware of what abuse looks like.

I actually found the portrayal of the relationship so accurate to real abuse that I found it came very close to triggering me. I imagine some parts of it may actually trigger some people, so at times watching those videos I felt like "oh man there should be a trigger warning on this" but then thinking about the videos as being made by lydia's character... well she wouldn't put a trigger warning on it since she doesn't think her relationship is abusive, right? But I still felt like there should be some kind of warning because woah-boy but some moments were very yucky.

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Redskies
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Thanks for this, skiesofgreen! I haven't been watching this, and now I think I might start from the beginning... but I do know the original book, and I Love this transposition of the original plot. I think it's incredibly fitting. While the original wasn't really what we'd think of as abusive, Wickham is clearly a cad the whole way through, and - once it comes to light - was clearly always lying and intending to lie to Lydia just to get what he wanted, without regard for her well-being, and in a way that would be life-changingly damaging for her. Also, while people were finding him a bit suspect, they had no idea of what he was really doing with Lydia and of how serious and bad it was. There's also the angle of people thinking it was "her fault" because she was naive and swept off her feet, when really he was the one in the wrong - she would've been fine if he'd been a decent guy. I think those things transpose excellently to an abusive relationship in modern terms.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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skiesofgreen
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So glad to introduce someone to the series Redskies I hope you enjoy it. While I've really liked what they're doing with the series I had actually been wondering whether I would consider the portrayal as true to the books and I think your take on it makes some great points. One thing that I do really love about this series, while not completely accurate but I think staying true to the heart of the story, is that Lizzie's prejudices aren't just being exposed about the men in her life but also around her family.

And Onionpie I totally hear what you're saying about the triggeringness (is that a word?) of the videos. Honestly I think a lack trigger warnings is something all too common. I recently sat down to read The Wind Up Chronicles and, hoy boy, while I ended up finishing the book and enjoying it (with a few caveats) I couldn't help wishing someone had warned me that rape would be prominent in the novel. Unfortunately, outside of circles that are well informed about/work with sexual assault survivors, the idea of needing trigger warnings is all but not thought of.

[ 02-16-2013, 06:40 PM: Message edited by: skiesofgreen ]

Posts: 243 | From: British Columbia, Canada | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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